Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:45 pm on 3rd March 2008.

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Photo of Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws Labour 5:45 pm, 3rd March 2008

Reference has been made to the fact that my own chambers do quite a deal of work in the pornographic field—I do not get very much of it myself, and I cannot express any regret about that. However, because John Mortimer's practice passed to certain people in my chambers, a lot of work concerned with pornography comes to us. It is interesting that, precisely for the reasons that we have just heard expressed by the noble Lord on the Cross Benches, juries on the whole have great difficulty in dealing with what is likely to deprave and corrupt, and one sees shifts, depending on what is happening in society. Twenty years ago, there was a great deal more horror about pornography that was homosexual in nature. Nowadays, juries are much more accepting of that, but much less accepting of violence towards women. The way in which these shifts take place is very interesting.

I have always argued that extreme pornography of this kind has to be accessed on the internet using credit cards. Why have the Government not thought of it as a course to dealing with it? They could approach credit card companies and say, "It is your responsibility to put a block on these sites, and when someone seeks to use their credit card for this extreme pornography, they cannot do it". Why are we not seeking to address it that way rather than introducing the problem of finding a criterion that does not fall foul of the problems raised in this debate? I would be interested to hear from the Minister whether efforts have been made to go down that route.